Saturday, October 29, 2011

Big Fish Eat Tiny Meals - Midge Fly Time Is Here

Last winter I made a decision to get very tiny with my presentations for late fall and winter.  By tiny, I mean using flies size 20 and smaller.  Because there are over 700 different non biting midge flies in North America, finding the best colors is going to be a trial and catch situation.

In addition to the simple larval form of the life cycle you will want to tie very small versions of flies like Pheasant Tails, Hairs Ear, Copper Johns and various Chironomid imatations.

During our regular season from spring to fall these tiny midges will go through a complete life cycle from egg to adult in a 2-3 week period.  This is why very tiny flies are all that fish will eat at certain times.  When I find myself in a situation where I know the fish are eating, and I can't get a hook up, I will get smaller and smaller in my selection and hope that size 22 and below will not be necessary.  You will have this happen more often in tail water locations.

At the end of the season the complete cycle will stop and suspend in the larval state through the winter.  November will start as the smallest and April the same pattern will have grown a bit.  I have been fishing for Land Locked Salmon at the end our New Hampshire season, and a very successful fly is the Olive Jailbird by Marla Blair in sizes 18 and 20.  I tie them from light to dark in color with dubbing as well as a very thin version with thread for the body.  Finding the red wire for the rib in a small enough size is a key element.

Because there are so many different possibilities for these flies, When trout and salmon fishing, I carry at lease 100 with me me at all times.  I build them in olive from light to dark, copper bodies with different dubbing for the heads, red from bright to blood, green from pale to dark, brown from tan to mahogany, with and without beads, with or without weight, with or without ribs, with or without flash and many different hook shapes as are made.  Over time I expect that I will keep track and learn what works best on the rivers I fish on a regular basis.

I have found that using a larger fly with a bit of weight and the midge as a dropper has been working the best.  Because of the size of the eye on these tiny flies I must use a lighter tippet.  For the weighted fly I make the size larger and use a heavier tippet.

23" Salmon #18 Jailbird
Because these insects go through a complete egg to adult cycle you will want to have a few dry flies that will work at times.  Because of the higher water temperatures on tail waters it is possible to have a need for emergers as well as dries.  A size 18 or 20 Griffiths Knat in black, grizzly and brown should work just fine.  I always have a few dries available because you never know when the condition  will be just right.

Don't let the tiny size of these flies intimidate you.  You will get used to the size and a pair of magnifying glasses is a big help.  Big fish eat small meals and at times it is the only thing they want.


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